I’ve obsessed over “Sister, Sister,” a TV show about twins separated at birth and reunited, since I first stumbled upon it in elementary school. Back then, I liked it because it was funny and entertaining. But now, as I still watch it 19 years after its final episode aired, I’m realizing how much the show really meant to me.
For a long time, I wanted a relationship like the twins Tia and Tamera had on the show. I saw myself in Tia. Like her, I’m a plan ahead, always prepared, honor roll, type-A kind of student. I could relate so strongly to her. At times, moments on the show became my reality. Like Tia, I worked so hard all throughout high school and was sure I’d get into the best universities in the country. I felt her disappointment when she received her rejection letter from Harvard University, and just like in the show, my mom and I jumped for joy when I got into the University of Michigan.
Back then, I didn’t realize how big of a role model Tia was for me. I didn’t think too much about how great it felt to watch a show in which the main characters looked like me. I did not know how much I would come to appreciate the show’s honest, real representation of some of the experiences I would later face growing up as a Black girl in America.
But at its core, “Sister, Sister” is about the unbreakable bond, love and friendship between two sisters. When I told my friends how badly I wanted a twin sister, they laughed at the impossibility and tried to comfort me with stories of how annoying their sisters were. With one older brother, I can still relate to having a sibling, but the six years that separate us make it difficult to have any shared experiences.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized what it really was about Tia and Tamera’s relationship that I longed for all this time. Tia and Tamera can relate to each other in a way that very few people can. They share lived experiences because of their age, similar physical appearances and environment. They understand each other in a special way only identical twins, and maybe other really close relatives or friends, can.
Now I realize all that time I spent watching shows like “Sister, Sister” and “The Bold Type,” I was looking for someone to whom I could relate. I’ve finally found that person for me, and no, I didn’t discover a long-lost twin or clone myself. Instead, I am beyond lucky to have made a friend who shares a background so similar to my own. I find myself eager to share my frustrations with her because I know she’ll understand. I don’t have to give her background information on where I stand because she’s lived so much of it. Finally, I can say, “You know” and she actually knows!
What a relief it is to have someone who gets it. To have someone to talk to about the struggle of grasping my identity as Nigerian and Black. To have someone who can relate to my love of fashion and my faith. To have someone who understands my hesitation and frustration with make-up. And possibly most importantly, to have someone who will never get sick of re-watching Black Panther with me.
To Efe, the sister I always wanted and friend I am forever grateful to have.